•  243
    Distributed cognition and the humanities
    In Miranda Anderson, Douglas Cairns, Mark Sprevak & Michael Wheeler (eds.), The Edinburgh History of Distributed Cognition Series, Volumes 1-4, Edinburgh University Press Series. pp. 1-17. 2018.
    The general introduction, which is replicated across all four volumes, aims to orientate readers unfamiliar with this area of research. It provides an overview of the different approaches within distributed cognition and discussion of the value of a distributed cognitive approach to the humanities.
  •  31
    Predictive coding I: Introduction
    Philosophy Compass 19 (1). 2024.
    Predictive coding – sometimes also known as ‘predictive processing’, ‘free energy minimisation’, or ‘prediction error minimisation’ – claims to offer a complete, unified theory of cognition that stretches all the way from cellular biology to phenomenology. However, the exact content of the view, and how it might achieve its ambitions, is not clear. This series of articles examines predictive coding and attempts to identify its key commitments and justification. The present article begins by focu…Read more
  • Group minds and explanatory simplicity
    with David Statham
    In Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Mind, Self and Person, Cambridge University Press. 2015.
  •  8
    The Edinburgh History of Distributed Cognition Series, Volumes 1-4 (edited book)
    with Miranda Anderson, Douglas Cairns, and Michael Wheeler
    Edinburgh University Press Series. 2018.
    The Edinburgh History of Distributed Cognition (Series Editor(s): Miranda Anderson, Douglas Cairns) Questions the barriers between the humanities and the cognitive sciences. Cognitive science is finding increasing evidence that cognition is distributed across brain, body and world. This series calls for a reappraisal of historical concepts of cognition in light of these findings. It engages with recent debates about the various strong or weak models of distributed cognition and brings them into …Read more
  •  2
    From intelligent machines to the human brain
    with Peggy Seriès
    In Michela Massimi (ed.), Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone. pp. 86-102. 2014.
    This chapter introduces the idea that computation is a key tool that can help us understand how the human brain works. Recent years have seen a revolution in the kinds of tasks computers can perform. Underlying these advances is the burgeoning field of machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence, which aims at creating machines that can act without being programmed, learning from data and experience. Rather startlingly, it turns out that the same methods that allow us to make intellige…Read more
  •  5
    What is consciousness?
    with David Carmel
    In Michela Massimi (ed.), Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone. pp. 103-122. 2014.
    Human consciousness is one of the greatest mysteries in the universe. From one point of view this should be surprising, since we know a great deal about consciousness from our own experience. One could say that our own conscious experience is the thing in the world that we know best. Descartes wanted to build the entirety of natural science on the foundation of our understanding of our conscious thought. Yet despite our intimate relationship with our own consciousness experience, from another po…Read more
  •  28
    Not All Computational Methods Are Effective Methods
    Philosophies 7 (5): 113. 2022.
    An effective method is a computational method that might, in principle, be executed by a human. In this paper, I argue that there are methods for computing that are not effective methods. The examples I consider are taken primarily from quantum computing, but these are only meant to be illustrative of a much wider class. Quantum inference and quantum parallelism involve steps that might be implemented in multiple physical systems, but cannot be implemented, or at least not at will, by an idealis…Read more
  •  14
    What realism about agents requires
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 45. 2022.
    Bruineberg et al. argue that the formal notion of a Markov blanket fails to provide a single principled boundary between an agent and its environment. I argue that one should not expect a general theory of agenthood to provide a single boundary; and the reliance on auxiliary assumptions is neither arbitrary nor reason to suspect instrumentalism.
  •  34
    Understanding phenomenal consciousness while keeping it real (review)
    Philosophical Psychology (2): 438-441. 2022.
    Being You is a beautifully written book about consciousness. It pulls off the seemingly impossible trick of being a deeply personal account of the author’s own life and conscious experiences while...
  •  46
    Distributed Cognition in Victorian Culture and Modernism (edited book)
    with Miranda Anderson and Peter Garratt
    Edinburgh University Press. 2020.
    Reinvigorates our understanding of Victorian and modernist works and society Offers a wide-ranging application of theories of distributed cognition to Victorian culture and Modernism Explores the distinctive nature and expression of notions of distributed cognition in Victorian culture and Modernism and considers their relation to current notions Reinvigorates our understanding of Western European works – including Wordsworth, T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf – and society by bringing to bear r…Read more
  •  9
    Distributed Cognition in Classical Antiquity (edited book)
    with Miranda Anderson and Douglas Cairns
    Edinburgh University Press. 2018.
    12 essays by international specialists in classical antiquity create a period-specific interdisciplinary introduction to distributed cognition and the cognitive humanities - The first book in an ambitious 4-volume set looking at distributed cognition in the history of thought - Includes essays on archaeology, art history, rhetoric, literature, philosophy, science, medicine and technology -For students and scholars in classics, cognitive humanities, philosophy of mind and ancient philosophy -…Read more
  •  81
    Two Kinds of Information Processing in Cognition
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (3): 591-611. 2020.
    What is the relationship between information and representation? Dating back at least to Dretske (1981), an influential answer has been that information is a rung on a ladder that gets one to representation. Representation is information, or representation is information plus some other ingredient. In this paper, I argue that this approach oversimplifies the relationship between information and representation. If one takes current probabilistic models of cognition seriously, information is conne…Read more
  •  37
    Computational approaches dominate contemporary cognitive science, promising a unified, scientific explanation of how the mind works. However, computational approaches raise major philosophical and scientific questions. In what sense is the mind computational? How do computational approaches explain perception, learning, and decision making? What kinds of challenges should computational approaches overcome to advance our understanding of mind, brain, and behaviour? The Routledge Handbook of the C…Read more
  •  49
    The Language of Thought: A New Philosophical Direction, by SchneiderSusan. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011. Pp. xii + 259.
  •  171
    Inference to the hypothesis of extended cognition
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4): 353-362. 2010.
    This paper examines the justification for the hypothesis of extended cognition. HEC claims that human cognitive processes can, and often do, extend outside our head to include objects in the environment. HEC has been justified by inference to the best explanation. Both advocates and critics of HEC claim that we can infer the truth value of HEC based on whether HEC makes a positive or negative explanatory contribution to cognitive science. I argue that IBE cannot play this epistemic role. A serio…Read more
  •  139
    Chinese Rooms and Program Portability
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (4): 755-776. 2007.
    I argue in this article that there is a mistake in Searle's Chinese room argument that has not received sufficient attention. The mistake stems from Searle's use of the Church-Turing thesis. Searle assumes that the Church-Turing thesis licences the assumption that the Chinese room can run any program. I argue that it does not, and that this assumption is false. A number of possible objections are considered and rejected. My conclusion is that it is consistent with Searle's argument to hold onto …Read more
  •  42
    New Waves in Philosophy of Mind (edited book)
    Palgrave-Macmillan. 2014.
    Philosophy of mind is one of the core disciplines in philosophy. The questions that it deals with are profound, vexed and intriguing. This volume of 15 new cutting-edge essays gives young researchers a chance to stir up new ideas. The essays cover a wide range of topics, including the nature of consciousness, cognition, and action. A common theme in the essays is that the future of philosophy of mind lies in judicious use of resources from related fields, including epistemology, metaphysics, phi…Read more
  •  423
    The Turing Guide (edited book)
    with Jack Copeland, Jonathan Bowen, and Robin Wilson
    Oxford University Press. 2017.
    This volume celebrates the various facets of Alan Turing (1912–1954), the British mathematician and computing pioneer, widely considered as the father of computer science. It is aimed at the general reader, with additional notes and references for those who wish to explore the life and work of Turing more deeply. The book is divided into eight parts, covering different aspects of Turing’s life and work. Part I presents various biographical aspects of Turing, some from a personal point of view. P…Read more
  •  61
    Group Minds and Explanatory Simplicity
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 76 3-19. 2015.
    This paper explores the claim that explanation of a group 's behaviour in term of individual mental states is, in principle, superior to explanation of that behaviour in terms of group mental states. We focus on the supposition that individual-level explanation is superior because it is simpler than group -level explanation. In this paper, we consider three different simplicity metrics. We argue that on none of those metrics does individual-level explanation achieve greater simplicity than a gro…Read more
  •  152
    Review of William M. Ramsey Representation Reconsidered
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3): 669-675. 2011.
    William Ramsey’s Representation Reconsidered is a superb, insightful analysis of the notion of mental representation in cognitive science. The book presents an original argument for a bold conclusion: partial eliminativism about mental representation in scientific psychology. According to Ramsey, once we examine the conditions that need to be satisfied for something to qualify as a representation, we can see those conditions are not fulfilled by the ‘representations’ posited by much of modern ps…Read more
  •  71
    Commentary on 'Conceptual challenges in the neuroimaging of psychiatric disorders'
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology. forthcoming.
    Kanaan and McGuire elegantly describe three challenges facing the use of fMRI to uncover cognitive mechanisms. They shows how these challenges ramify in the case of identifying the mechanisms responsible for psychiatric disorders. In this commentary, I would like to raise another difficulty for fMRI that also appears to ramify in similar cases. This is that there are good reasons for doubting one of the assumptions on which many fMRI studies are based: that neural mechanisms are always and every…Read more
  •  219
    Kripke’s paradox and the Church–Turing thesis
    Synthese 160 (2): 285-295. 2008.
    Kripke (1982, Wittgenstein on rules and private language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) presents a rule-following paradox in terms of what we meant by our past use of “plus”, but the same paradox can be applied to any other term in natural language. Many responses to the paradox concentrate on fixing determinate meaning for “plus”, or for a small class of other natural language terms. This raises a problem: how can these particular responses be generalised to the whole of natural language? In this p…Read more
  •  83
    The Chinese carnival
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (1): 203-209. 2005.
    In contrast to many areas of contemporary philosophy, something like a carnival atmosphere surrounds Searle’s Chinese room argument. Not many recent philosophical arguments have exerted such a pull on the popular imagination, or have produced such strong reactions. People from a wide range of fields have expressed their views on the argument. The argument has appeared in Scientific American, television shows, newspapers, and popular science books. Preston and Bishop’s recent volume of essays ref…Read more
  •  714
    Extended Cognition and Functionalism
    Journal of Philosophy 106 (9): 503-527. 2009.
    Andy Clark and David Chalmers claim that cognitive processes can and do extend outside the head.1 Call this the “hypothesis of extended cognition” (HEC). HEC has been strongly criticised by Fred Adams, Ken Aizawa and Robert Rupert.2 In this paper I argue for two claims. First, HEC is a harder target than Rupert, Adams and Aizawa have supposed. A widely-held view about the nature of the mind, functionalism—a view to which Rupert, Adams and Aizawa appear to subscribe— entails HEC. Either HEC is tr…Read more
  •  172
    Magic, semantics, and Putnam’s vat brains
    with Christina Mcleish
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 35 (2): 227-236. 2003.
    In this paper we offer an exegesis of Hilary Putnam’s classic argument against the brain-in-avat hypothesis offered in his Reason, truth and history (1981). In it, Putnam argues that we cannot be brains in a vat because the semantics of the situation make it incoherent for anyone to wonder whether they are a brain a vat. Putnam’s argument is that in order for ‘I am a brain in a vat’ to be true, the person uttering it would have to be able to refer successfully to those things: the vat, and the e…Read more
  •  298
    Computation and cognitive science: Introduction to issue
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (3): 223-226. 2010.
    Nowadays, it has become almost a matter of course to say that the human mind is like a computer. Folks in all walks of life talk of ‘programming’ themselves, ‘multitasking’, running different ‘operating systems’, and sometimes of ‘crashing’ and being ‘rebooted’. Few who have used computers have not been touched by the appeal of the..
  •  124
    The frame problem and the treatment of prediction
    In L. Magnani & R. Dossena (eds.), Computing, Philosophy and Cognition, . pp. 4--349. 2005.
    The frame problem is a problem in artificial intelligence that a number of philosophers have claimed has philosophical relevance. The structure of this paper is as follows: (1) An account of the frame problem is given; (2) The frame problem is distinguished from related problems; (3) The main strategies for dealing with the frame problem are outlined; (4) A difference between commonsense reasoning and prediction using a scientific theory is argued for; (5) Some implications for the..
  •  173
    Fictionalism about Neural Representations
    The Monist 96 (4): 539-560. 2013.
    This paper explores a novel form of Mental Fictionalism: Fictionalism about talk of neural representations in cognitive science. This type of Fictionalism promises to (i) avoid the hard problem of naturalising representations, without (ii) incurring the high costs of eliminating useful representation talk. In this paper, I motivate and articulate this form of Fictionalism, and show that, despite its apparent advantages, it faces two serious objections. These objections are: (1) Fictionalism abou…Read more
  •  158
    Realism and instrumentalism
    In H. Pashler (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Mind, Sage Publications. forthcoming.
    The choice between realism and instrumentalism is at the core of concerns about how our scientific models relate to reality: Do our models aim to be literally true descriptions of reality, or is their role only as useful instruments for generating predictions? Realism about X, roughly speaking, is the claim that X exists and has its nature independent of our interests, attitudes, and beliefs. An instrumentalist about X denies this. She claims that talk of X should be understood as no more than a…Read more
  •  141
    Computation, individuation, and the received view on representation
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (3): 260-270. 2010.
    The ‘received view’ about computation is that all computations must involve representational content. Egan and Piccinini argue against the received view. In this paper, I focus on Egan’s arguments, claiming that they fall short of establishing that computations do not involve representational content. I provide positive arguments explaining why computation has to involve representational content, and how that representational content may be of any type. I also argue that there is no need for com…Read more